Grand Island elementary schools seek upgrades

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Updated: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 10:02:51 CST

Multiple Grand Island elementary schools are dealing with makeshift classrooms and massive overcrowding.

That's why the school board will soon be discussing details of a possible $56 million bond.

Many of the buildings are old and outdated, but one of the main issues is three of the schools are designed with open concept classrooms, meaning they don't have interior walls.

"This is our media center, this is also the main hallway for getting through to the lunchroom to the gym, the intervention centers." Said Principal of Starr Elementary, John Hauser as he walked through the building.

The idea of open concept classrooms means almost no real walls. Shower curtains act as doors and temporary walls divide rooms.

"We are overcrowded." Said Hauser.

The district is growing rapidly west of Highway 281. Most schools are struggling to keep up with students' needs.

"That's one of the reasons we added two modular buildings, that's one of the reasons we divided one of our regular classrooms." Said Hauser.

A temporary divider stands between many classes, often with no door at all.

One room labeled "Electrical Room" isn't that at all. It's now an office, and an extra space for small student lessons.

"All of our kids in the district deserve optimal learning environments and our open classroom in three of the attendance centers in Jefferson, Starr and Schumaker are not optimal." Said Superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools, Dr. Rob Winter.

At Stolley Park Elementary there's a whole different list of issues.

The School is over 100 years old, and it has undergone at least 6 renovations, including adding on two modular units outside.

"Most of our rooms or available rooms are used for dual purposes. So you may see kids working in the hallway, you may see coat closets that are turned into teachers offices." Said Principal of Stolley Park Elementary, Steve Retzlaff.

The music room now sits on the stage above the gym. Sound is an issue here, so they added a garage door to try and muffle the sounds from the opposite side.

Administrators would like to see several of the elementary schools including Starr, Stolley Park and Jefferson either rebuilt or completely renovated.

Now the School Board plans to have a study session on January 29th to dig a little deeper into what the possible changes could look like.